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Jill Hardy, Bridget Behe, Susan Barton, Thomas Page, R. Thomas Fernandez, Robert Schutzki, and D. Bradley Rowe

For most residential home improvements, excluding landscapes, professionals can document return on investment. Our objective was to compare costs of installing landscapes with perceived home value, and determine return on investment. We administered surveys in eight selected U.S. cities in 1999. Self-selected participants from home and garden shows were asked to examine a photograph of a home without landscaping (base home), and were given its value estimated by local realtors. Participants were asked to view 16 additional photographs of the base home with different landscapes. Cost estimates for landscape materials and installation were calculated. Results showed that a sophisticated landscape with large and diverse plant material added up to 13% to the perceived value of a new $200,000 home. On average, any level of landscaping added value to the home. The increase in perceived value as a percentage of project cost was greatest for simple designs with small evergreen plant material. Complicated designs that included hardscapes and large, diverse plant material returned the least. In general, we found that return on investment for landscaping is comparable to the returns gained on several major home improvements, yet differed with respect to geographic region. We found that colored hardscape, developed from a red brick paver walkway, returned less than color from flowering annuals. Return on investment was greatest for annual plants added for color.

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Bridget K. Behe, Lillie V. Purvis, Lisa M. Beckett, Charles H. Gilliam, and James O. Donald

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Wayne A. Becker, Bridget K. Behe, James L. Johnson, Christine D. Townsend, and Kerry K. Litzenberg

After a survey describing the range of products and services offered by Texas florists and supermarket floral departments, a modified SERVQUAL instrument measured customer perceptions and expectations of floral service quality. Florist customers were 3.2 years older, had a slightly higher household income, bought floral products twice as often from a florist, spent $14.53 more on each florist purchase than supermarket customers; they also made four fewer floral purchases from supermarkets during the previous 6 months. Supermarket customers spent $14.40 more on each supermarket floral purchase than did florist customers. Reliability was the most important and tangibles were the least important of the five service quality dimensions. Although expectations for both groups were similar on 18 of 22 service quality items, florists' customers perceived higher service quality than did supermarket customers. Although customers of both retail outlets had expectations higher than perceptions, florist customers had smaller, less negative gap scores. This result showed that florists better met customer expectations than did supermarket floral departments, a potential competitive advantage.

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Bridget K. Behe, Elizabeth H. Moore, Arthur Cameron, and Forrest S. Carter

The U.S. wholesale market for flowering potted plants, valued at $701 million in 2000, is growing much slower than the $2.1 billion bedding plant market, indicating the product life-cycle of the former may have matured. A mature product yields little profit. Customers who purchase flowering potted plants for indoor enjoyment may have expectations about them, including that plant life is finite and there is no opportunity for outdoor use. Because scientists have discovered how to force selected perennials to flower, marketers may reposition them as indoor flowering potted plants, creating a new product and potentially stimulating sales of this lagging floral category. One method for relating customer perceptions of new products to familiar ones is perceptual mapping, which shows how consumers implicitly categorize products. Defining how consumers perceive the relationships between the selected flowering plants enables marketers to select the best opportunities for product positioning, merchandising, and pricing. We surveyed 200 self-selected visitors at a Michigan flower show in Apr. 2000 to determine their uses for, preferences for, and perceptions of three traditional indoor flowering potted plants and six traditional outdoor perennials. Perceptions were recorded on a seven-point scale. Squared Euclidean distances were calculated to derive the map in which two major dimensions emerged: use (indoor/outdoor) and flower color. Campanula carpatica Jacq. `Blue Clips' and Oxalis crassipes Urb. were mapped centrally, indicating participants had no strong perceptions for how these plants should be used. This suggests that Campanula and Oxalis have the greatest potential to be positioned for dual indoor and outdoor enjoyment, which may also yield some enhanced profitability.

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Jessica M. Hicks, Bridget K. Behe, Thomas J. Page, Jennifer H. Dennis, and R. Thomas Fernandez

Customers take some risk when they buy plants, and the emotions they experience from that purchase are important indications of whether they will return to buy again. Previous research by Dennis et al. showed that regret, a negative emotion, caused consumer switching behavior by their intentions to either buy an alternative product, purchase products from an alternative retailer, or switch out of gardening entirely. What happens when things go right? Customer satisfaction has been the metric businesses use to quantify success in customer retention. If customers who regret the purchase switch, do happy customers return to buy again? This research investigated the role of customer satisfaction, delight (a positive emotion), and prior plant knowledge on repurchase intentions. An Internet survey with 659 flowering plant purchasers throughout the U.S. was conducted in Sept. 2004 to examine the initial purchase and the actual performance of the plant following purchase.

Data were analyzed using structural equation modeling with LISREL software. Results showed that customer satisfaction level and delight were not affected by prior plant knowledge. Satisfaction level did not affect repurchase intentions, but customer delight did. Results were consistent with existing literature, indicating that greater emphasis should be placed on delighting consumers, rather than merely satisfying them.

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Christopher A. Frank, Robert G. Nelson, Eric H. Simonne, Bridget K. Behe, and Amarat H. Simonne

Most bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L.) produced and consumed are green. However, yellow, red, orange, white, black, and purple bell peppers are also available. While bell pepper consumption in the United States has been increasing in the past 10 years, limited information is available on how their color, retail price, and vitamin C content influence consumer preferences. A conjoint analysis of 435 consumer responses showed that, for the total sample, color was about three times more important than retail price in shaping consumers' purchase decisions, while vitamin C content was nearly irrelevant. Six distinct consumer segments were identified through cluster analysis. Four segments favored green peppers, while one segment favored yellow and one favored brown. Demographic variables generally were not good predictors of segment membership, but several behavioral variables, such as past bell pepper purchases, were significantly related to segment membership. While green is generally the preferred color, market segments exist for orange, red, yellow, and even brown peppers. Applications to marketing strategies suggested that price sensitivity could explain why green peppers were priced individually, but those of other colors were priced by weight, and that promotion of increased vitamin C content would be most effective if associated specifically with yellow and orange peppers.

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Bridget K. Behe, Melinda Knuth, Charles R. Hall, Patricia T. Huddleston, and R. Thomas Fernandez

The strain on potable water supplies heightens the competition for water resources and potentially reduces the demand for outdoor plantings and landscaping. We conducted an online survey with 1543 respondents in 2016 to ascertain their water conservation and plant expertise, their involvement in water conservation and plant issues, and the importance of plants and landscaping. We also collected demographic characteristics. Cluster analysis results identified two key market segments comprising ≈50% of the sample each: those who are Actively Interested in Water Conservation and those who are Disinterested in Water Conservation. The Actively Interested segment was younger, had more adults and children in the household, and had a higher household income. In addition to having a higher mean score for water conservation involvement and expertise, the Actively Interested segment had a higher mean score for water conservation importance and impact, as well as plant expertise and involvement. The Actively Interested segment scored higher on select components relating to horticultural importance, including aesthetically beautiful landscapes, active landscape enjoyment, desire for a low maintenance landscape, and response in drought, compared with the Disinterested segment. The Disinterested segment scored higher on the Non-Landscape Use with no enjoyment. Findings suggest that pro–water-conserving attitudes are found among consumers who value outdoor landscapes and those individuals who spend more on plants. Results suggest that producers and retailers should focus marketing and communication efforts on low water use cultivar selection and operationalizing water-conserving behaviors more than convincing consumers that plant purchases and landscaping are important.

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Bridget Behe, Robert Nelson, Susan Barton, Charles Hall, Steve Turner, and Charles Safley

Consumers in five U.S. markets evaluated photographs of geranium plants with regard to purchase likelihood. Photographic images were colored electronically to produce uniform geranium plants with five flower colors (pink, white, red, lavender, and blue) and three leaf variegation patterns (dark zone, white zone, and no zonal pattern). Photographs were mounted on cards with five selected price points ranging from ($1.39 to $2.79). We randomly generated an orthogonal array, partial-factorial design for consumers to rate a reduced number of choices. Consumers shopping in cooperating garden centers located in Dallas, Texas; Montgomery, Ala.; Athens, Ga.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Wilmington, Dela., rated 25 photographs on the basis of their likelihood to purchase the plants shown. Conjoint analysis revealed that customers in the Georgia garden center placed the highest proportion of their decision to buy on leaf variegation (29%), while customers in the Alabama outlet placed the most emphasis on price (46% of the decision). Shoppers in Texas valued flower color most highly (58% of their decision to buy). Demographic characteristics and past purchase behavior also varied widely, suggesting diverse marketing strategies for geraniums.

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Jennifer H. Dennis*, Bridget K. Behe, Thomas J. Page Jr., and Richard A. Spreng

Michigan State Univ. researchers surveyed 777 gardening consumers in an Internet survey on 24 Sept. 2003 to determine consumer perceptions of satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and regret of three horticultural products: hanging baskets, potted roses, and 1 gallon perennials. Consumer satisfaction has been studied in a horticultural context before, however, to our knowledge this is the first time emotion research, specifically regret, has been applied in a horticultural setting. Regret is an emotion experienced from a negative valenced reaction to an event such as a dead or dying plant. Consumer satisfaction/dissatisfaction is a state of being derived from the expectation and performance of a particular product. Based on work from a doctoral dissertation, the objective was to investigate the behavioral consequences associated when gardening consumers experienced dissatisfaction or regret toward these three products. Questions were asked to pinpoint levels of dissatisfaction and regret and whether they switched from the product based on feelings of dissatisfaction and regret. About 27% (202) of respondents expressed some level of dissatisfaction or regret about the products specified in the survey. Results show regret drives switching behavior and those that experienced regret with their products were more likely to switch. Approximately 10% of gardening consumers switched to another activity outside of gardening because of failure of the plant purchased to perform where as 13.5% switched to another type of plant to remedy the situation. Regret has been shown to strongly influence repurchase behavior based on being an emotion. Results also indicate although dissatisfaction is unfortunate, it does not have the same effect on switching behavior.

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Melinda Knuth, Bridget K. Behe, Charles R. Hall, Patricia T. Huddleston, and R. Thomas Fernandez

Activity level, or the amount of action/interaction with a product, can be an indication of interest in a product category and influences purchases. Our goal was to assess the overall market for landscape plants using consumers’ activity level from the active/passive continuum proposed by . An online survey instrument was administered to invitees from a national online panel from 7 to 13 Sept. 2016 yielding 1543 useful responses. Factor analysis of 23 items adapted from a previous study revealed five factors, including one active factor and a separate passive factor. These two factors were used in the present study as a basis for a k-means cluster analysis. Two clusters emerged and were labeled “Active Engagement” and “Obligatory Passive Engagement” in landscape activities. We compared cluster means for all five factors and found the Active cluster purchased more plants of all types as well as had greater landscape pride and desire for a low (water) input landscape. Members of the Active cluster were from higher income and education households which were slightly larger and more likely to have Caucasian residents compared with the Passive cluster. In practice, retail employees and landscape professionals might initially ask about consumers’ activity level desired in the landscape as a screening question. Subsequent assistance in design and/or plant selection/purchase could then be tailored toward the desired activity level.